Educators have long recognized back-to-school season as a time for a fresh start. Whether it's rethinking a classroom set-up, reading lists, or a long-standing policy, the new school year represents a unique opportunity to reevaluate decisions — big and small. When it comes to assessing what technology is right for your school, those decisions are never clear-cut. While innovative education for the 21st century is not just about the device, it's becoming more and more evident that the right device is a critical component of a meaningful learning experience, focused on positive student outcomes.
Today, many schools are choosing Windows 8 devices for flexibility, ease of management and business class security with the Microsoft commitment to privacy. Hear why IT school leaders are choosing to standardize on the Windows 8 platform to support both their 1:1 and blended mobile device deployment models:
At Brighton Grammar School for boys in Australia, a new chapter in its educational program is beginning with their switch to Windows 8 devices. "For our senior years – that's years 7 to 12 – we had the Android program," says David Humphreys, Director of ICT at Brighton. "Both parents and students were telling us that the devices weren't as suitable as they would like for learning, and they were seen as more of a device for content consumption. Pretty quickly we decided on a Windows 8 platform."
The intuitive touch screens and interactive stylus in Windows 8 devices have captured the students' imaginations, empowered teachers with the possibilities of engaging students to learn anytime, anywhere , and satisfied demanding parents who wanted to ensure their students were learning with powerful technology that was safe, secure, and would prepare students for their futures.
"We have heard feedback from some parents who are considering the school because of our technology program, which is largely based around the Windows 8 platform and Microsoft software tools."
– David Humphreys, Director of ICT, Brighton Grammar School
"I would say that the most important change that we've seen is that the boys are moving away from simply using the devices to read, to scan, to jot down information," says Shelley Turek, Coordinator of Teaching and Learning Year 7-8 at Brighton. "We are now using the devices and the programs to be involved in collaboration in a way that we couldn't on the last platform."
Like most districts in the U.S., California's Fresno Unified School District – home to 72,000 students, 10,000 employees and 150,000 parents, on more than 100 different campuses – has been preparing for the move to Common Core, looking closely at the right technology to support their vision for a district-wide 1:1 Program. Fresno USD is in a metro area surrounded by a large agricultural community, which is one of the highest concentrated poverty areas in America, so finding the robust technology at the right price was essential. They chose a Windows 8 platform.
"We looked at the Chromebook, Android tablets, and the iPad," says Kurt Madden, CTO of Fresno Unified School District. "Ultimately we felt a Windows 8.1 device would better meet our needs across the board due to security, management, cost, and Common Core requirements."
At Easterby Elementary, a K-6 school in Fresno, Windows 8 has transformed classrooms – for both the teachers and students. "It allows me to get kids out of seats," said 4th-grade teacher Patrick Martino. "They can work anywhere!"
"Ultimately we felt a Windows 8.1 device would better meet our needs across the board due to security, management, cost, and Common Core requirements."
– Kurt Madden, Chief Technology Officer, Fresno Unified School District
Fresno USD and Brighton Grammar School are vastly different schools that represent the broad array of schools and districts around the world choosing Windows 8 – others include the School Improvement Network, Erasmus Hogeschool, Springfield Public Schools, Stockton Unified School District and Willis Independent School District. School leaders at these schools and districts have found that Windows 8 devices provide their students and teachers the most features, flexibility, security, affordability, and increased productivity. "We haven't once regretted our decision to move to Office 365," says Philippe Van Laethem, IT Manager at Erasmus Hogeschool. "Microsoft provided great tools to make the migration as smooth as possible, and Office 365 is an excellent platform."
Of course, features and devices alone won't impact education in a way that significantly affects student performance. That's why Microsoft provides product-specific training with ongoing, integrated professional development to ensure that teachers and school leaders have the skills they need to deliver curriculum on the devices that leads to improved student outcomes.
"It's engaging; it's exciting; it hits the kids right where they're at," adds Martino. "It connects us with the rest of the world. It puts the ability to think, to create, to read, to learn right at their fingertips."